Identity Theft

3 08 2011

This morning, I was listening to a radio talk show discussion regarding the change in stress in the lives of men versus women in the workplace.  Women’s stress levels have remained fairly constant over the last thirty years; men’s have increased significantly.  Poor boys. The guests, a behavioral researcher and a Wharton professor called this phenomenon – are you ready – the Male Mystique!  Oh, Betty Friedan, you must be spinning in your grave.

The idea that there are parallels between the unreachably perfect and codified standards of 1950’s American womanhood – standards created by and supported by men – with the sad result of preventing women from being whole human beings and men now being asked to change a diaper or unload the dishwasher is a real stretch. Sure, this is not Ozzie and Harriet’s world (kids under 45, Google them,) but it is still a man’s world in terms of relative power, which is why I must cry foul at this appropriation of Ms Friedan’s term Mystique.

Men and women all feel the new-to-us pressures of too few jobs, too little opportunity, no job security, rising fears for our safety, doubts that the future will ever be as good as the past.  I believe some men may perceive these financial and social changes with more dread than some women because women have always worried about job availability and opportunity and security – it was not so long ago we were denied good-paying positions, were not considered for advancement, and could be fired to give a man our job.

Women felt powerless and without value – the problem that has no name­ ­– for much of civilization.  It is relatively new to men, though. I think this has come about because corporations have risen above men to the top of the power chain.  Someone/something is now bigger, stronger, louder, faster than they are and it feels bad, especially in the current economic environment.  Well, folks, everybody is overworked, insecure, and underappreciated.

Everyone also has the ability to choose the reaction to those facts.  America has already survived more dire financial turmoil and deadly national safety breeches of greater magnitude than we now face.  We just keep moving forward, even though there are switchbacks and detours.

It may rain today.  I can have no influence whatsoever as to whether it does or not – I will take my umbrella and not waste any adrenaline fretting about it.  My identity, my personal worth, can’t be washed away; when the sun comes out, I will still be me. Remember who you are and don’t let circumstances outside your control color your self-image.  Protect your identity and you’ll be alright.

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2 responses

3 08 2011
Roxan O'Brien

Thank you Paula, very well expressed.

4 08 2011
Amber Kane

Thanks for sharing. I do always try to remind myself, if I don’t like something and I have the power to change it, then change it. If I can’t do anything about it, then don’t bother wasting my energy.

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